Blue Jackets now have a Monster partnership

The road to the NHL will run down I-71 from Cleveland to Columbus starting in 2015.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Prospects in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization will now have a shorter trip from the AHL to the NHL.

The Blue Jackets announced on Friday that the Lake Erie Monsters will be their new American Hockey League affiliate.

"The Blue Jackets couldn’t be more excited and proud to have the Lake Erie Monsters as our American Hockey League affiliate," said Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson. "Both organizations are committed to winning and providing a great experience for hockey fans and we believe Cleveland, whose hockey roots date to the late-1920s, is the perfect place for our young players to grow, develop and have great success.  Our sport has grown tremendously throughout the state of Ohio in recent years and we believe this partnership between two great hockey markets will allow us to continue that growth."

The Cleveland-based Monsters are owned by Dan Gilbert and play their home games at Quicken Loans Arena, along with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Arena Football League’s Cleveland Gladiators.  The 2015-16 season will be the Monsters’ ninth as a member of the American Hockey League with the club having served as the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche over the past eight years.

"Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters are very excited to be a part of this new affiliation partnership with the Columbus Blue Jackets," said Monsters President Kerry Bubolz. "Having this AHL-NHL connection in the state of Ohio will be great for the Monsters and Blue Jackets organizations, co-partners such as Fox Sports Ohio and all of the great hockey fans in the state. We look forward to this unique kinship with the Blue Jackets hockey operations staff, coaches, players and business team, both on and off the ice in Cleveland and Columbus."

Hockey is no stranger to Cleveland, which has been home to the AHL’s Cleveland Barons from 2001-06 and the International Hockey League’s Cleveland Lumberjacks from 1992-2001.  Professional hockey in the city dates to 1929-30 as the International Hockey League’s Cleveland Indians debuted that season, which began a 49-year stretch of professional hockey clubs in the market, including the original Barons of the AHL (1937-73), the World Hockey Association’s Crusaders (1972-76) and NHL’s Barons (1976-78).  The city and their AHL teams hold nine Calder Cup Championships.

For the past five season, the AHL affiliate of the Blue Jackets has been the Springfield Falcons, based in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Portions of the team release were used in this article.